Citizens, Filmmakers, Hackers
Foreword by Saeed Mirza
‘Ashish Rajadhyaksha’s book, John–Ghatak–Tarkovsky, is an analysis of the very nature of cinema that makes it such a threat in the eyes of the state. It is about the right to freedom of expression and dissent at one end, and the counter-strategy to control and regulate it at the other. This is a meticulously documented tale of the journey of a means of communication that had within it the seeds of rebellion, resistance and dissent.’– Saeed Akhtar Mirza
In June 2015, students of the Film and Television Institute of India went on a strike. It was initially meant to be no more than symbolic resistance to what they saw as discredited political appointees to its Governing Council. Over the months, as the strike expanded to eventually take on a life of its own, a student body of less than three hundred took on the might of India’s ruling establishment. The FTII strike became one of the most visible of several student agitations that were taking place across the country at that time. It reminded us once again how, as an idealized cause célèbre, cinema in India has historically been larger than itself and has repeatedly exceeded the spaces to which it has been designated. How it has spilled out of the film frame, gone beyond the movie theatre, overwhelmed the reformist purpose of cinematic realism, and refused to be constrained by institutional pedagogy.
John–Ghatak–Tarkovsky: Citizens, Filmmakers, Hackers tells a longer story of the events of 2015. This is a story of the university campus, and of the academic and creative freedoms associated with it that continue, even now, to be under threat. It speaks of the technologies of digitization that altered governance, redefined the public domain, transformed citizenship through new modes of surveillance alongside a ‘targeted’ delivery of services to ‘beneficiaries’. The book speaks of the transfiguration of the filmmaker into an increasingly invisible hacker, of cinema turning into low-resolution moving images, and of how all of this redefined student protest.